Over 2011-2016, carbonates witnessed a rise in the number of local players across India. These companies focused on niche marketing strategies with unique positioning. They now form formidable competition and challenge to the current duopolistic market for carbonates in India. As competition intensifies, regional manufacturers will need to take counter measures to gain market share.
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Local companies have reported higher growth over 2011-2016 due to the early introduction of unique Indian-flavoured drinks, leveraging unexplored channels and ensuring a low price point, which enabled these companies to maintain growth despite the slowdown in carbonates.
Millennials are open to experimenting with new flavours and are adopting carbonated drinks made out of Indian spices. Local flavours made from cumin, black salt and raw mango are gaining popularity among consumers. Local players enjoyed first-mover advantage by introducing these flavours. In addition to local companies, Coca-Cola and PepsiCo have also launched similar products.
Local companies promoted their products by exploring untapped channels such as railway stations, bus stations and highways. Consumers buying from these channels usually make a purchase to satisfy on-the-go consumption and are highly price sensitive. These consumers also lack brand loyalty which was leveraged well by local companies to expand their presence locally.
Over the forecast period, local players will undergo consolidation mainly to remain relevant. Consolidation, especially acquisitions and mergers, is likely to creates synergies and facilitate geographical expansion by local companies, which would otherwise remain restricted to just a few states. Leading companies might also look out to acquire regional companies to expand their portfolios, remain relevant and fight the slowdown in carbonates.